‘Offshore’ means out of sight and out of mind, when it comes to the environmental destruction these things cause.
No one sees the countless numbers of seabirds wiped out of existence by 60-70m blades with their outer tips doing over 350 km an hour.
No one sees the destruction of undersea ecosystems, the seabed ripped up to make way for turbines and the thousands of kilometres of cables that connect them to each other and to the shore.
No one hears the thumping, grinding cacophony of low-frequency noise and vibration these things generate, that deafens whales and dolphins, drives them to the beach and doom, many of them rare and endangered species.
If no one knows, then no one cares. And that’s the motto that’s allowed the wind industry to get away with environmental murder.
Steadily though, thanks to sites, such as this one, and people like Jason Endfield, an increasing number of people are being exposed to the extent of the destruction these things cause to our precious marine environment. Here’s Jason with a telling wrap-up of the ecological disaster that is offshore wind power.
Offshore Wind Farms Cause ‘Cataclysmic Destruction’ Of Ecosystems
29 December 2022
Wind energy, cheap electricity from the elements. Surely a great idea?
But has it just become a cash cow for big industry and governments, with precious little benefit to citizens – and, ironically, all at the expense of the natural world?
I’ve written many times over the years about the potential for ecological damage caused by badly planned wind farms, particularly large offshore developments, the detrimental effects of which have been vastly underestimated. Now, as the industry expands at an alarming pace, we disregard the evidence at our peril.
An immediate danger to nature – with worse to come
Studies have shown that the offshore wind industry is already a very present and immediate danger to nature. Now, in the UK, recent policy changes, aimed at rapidly ramping up industrial offshore development, mean that there will likely be even less consideration given to environmental concerns.
With the UK planning to increase offshore wind power from 11GW to 50GW by 2030, it’s really bad news for nature. It means around 3,200 additional (and much bigger) wind turbines could be installed in the seas surrounding the UK by 2030 – roughly equating to three new turbines every two days if the target is to be met.
We know that existing offshore wind farms can be deadly to birds, a threat to cetaceans, responsible for the demise of rare bat species and worryingly the cause of destabilised phytoplankton levels, which has massive consequences for marine ecosystems generally.
Without a more considered approach, in our clumsy quest to find renewable sources of energy, we could do irreparable damage to marine biodiversity.
The UK’s ‘Energy Security Strategy’
Extensive industrial wind farm developments in the Irish Sea have, I believe, already contributed to a steep decline in several species of sea bird, as well as having a harmful effect on other marine life including whales and dolphins.
Now we hear that Ireland too could compound the problem by seeking to build even more wind farms in this already overcrowded body of water, while UK plans to rapidly expand wind farm development in the North Sea will further endanger our marine wildlife.
Indeed the UK’s ‘Energy Security Strategy’ will reduce planning consent times from around four years to just one year, in their own words “streamlining the environmental assessment process”, by reviewing and amending the Habitats Regulations Assessments and the Planning Act of 2008 “to maintain valued protection for wildlife, whilst reducing reams of paperwork.”
Quite how they will ‘maintain valued protection for wildlife’, while fast tracking planning applications, is unclear when we still know relatively little about the real effect that wind farms have on the environment.
Such ambitious plans for rapid expansion of the offshore wind industry means there will be fewer obstacles in the way of mass industrialisation of our seas and potentially even less consideration given to environmental impacts. All of this is bound to damage ecosystems around the coast of the United Kingdom. There will be precious little refuge for wildlife and we will only discover the true cost when it is too late.
Experts urge caution – but is anyone listening?
These are not empty warnings, there has been much scientific research confirming that delicate ecosystems are already being harmed by the existing offshore turbine fields. But many of those urging caution remain unheard because they are battling a massive industry with huge financial backing and a very effective PR machine.
Today’s offshore wind industry has little or nothing to do with ‘saving the planet’, which is what they might have you believe, and the frenetic pace at which governments are determined to industrialise our oceans is alarming – and irresponsible.
If offshore wind development continues unabated and without due care, then we could face cataclysmic and irreversible destruction of marine ecosystems. Not convinced? Well let’s look at some of the research then.
Marine ecosystems under threat
A recent paper published by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres concluded that the expansion of wind farms in the North Sea “will have a significant impact on the structuring of marine coastal ecosystems”, impact that is not fully understood but is apparently being ignored by governments and the wind industry, both of which continue to insist that wind energy is green and environmentally friendly. It may be in principle, but the sheer scale and speed of offshore developments is unbelievably rash.
Saving the planet for humans, it seems, will be at the expense of many other species, some of which may disappear entirely from this world in our quest for ‘sustainable’ and ‘renewable’ energy. But we won’t last long on our own. If we eradicate other species, as we are doing at breakneck speed already, then we are signing our own death warrant in the process.
As I’ve pointed out in earlier articles, whale strandings and bird loss might be the tip of the iceberg, the first visible signs of a massive ecological disaster if the expansion of the wind industry is allowed to progress unchecked.
Bats: Offshore wind farms pose a serious threat to the survival of our rarest bats.
An important report, published by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency as long ago as 2007, showed that migrating and coastal dwelling bats are actually attracted to the huge offshore turbines. The study found no less than twelve species of bat in coastal areas or offshore, and referred to bat collisions with offshore turbines as “deplorable” pointing out that “it is a serious matter if this mortality lowers the density or wipes out local populations.”
There is no significant data on the numbers of bats killed by offshore wind turbines. We simply do not know and this lack of data has been of concern even to those employed to carry out environmental impact assessments during the planning stage. One UK ecological consultancy company for example has lamented that “large numbers of bats could be following significant aggregations of insects far out to sea, possibly placing them in harm’s way as more and more wind farms spring up around the Baltic and North Seas, as well as Europe’s Atlantic coastlines,” adding that “it is very rare that we are asked to consider bats in our approach to pre-construction surveys or impact assessments”.
Whales and Dolphins: In recent years we have seen exceptionally high mortality events amongst whales and dolphins around the coast of the UK. There were upwards of 1000 whale strandings in 2018 alone.
I reported on this worrying trend that same year, and in a further article noted that studies of beached whales in other parts of the world had found that they were deaf, this being the cause of their stranding and raising concerns over offshore windfarm development. Knowing this, we would be foolish to ignore warnings such as that from the NOAA who noted in 2021 (in regard to endangered North Atlantic Right Whales) that “increased noise from wind turbine construction and operations and vessels could […] directly impact important whale behaviors and interfere with the detection of critical acoustic cues. These types of impacts may also be associated with physiological stress…”
Birds: It is already well established that wind turbines kill huge numbers of birds in all areas of the world where they have been employed, on land and at sea.
Nowhere more perhaps than around the Irish Sea, where a high concentration of wind farms has coincided with a massive decline in sea bird populations. While there will be other contributing factors to their decline, plans to increase offshore wind in this relatively small and confined marine area will I fear likely lead to significant further decrease in birds to levels from which they may never recover. I reported on this in 2019, and the news caused much conversation and discussion, though not enough to deter the Irish government from giving a green light to plans for more industrial development in this ecologically sensitive and important marine environment.
Micro-ecosystems: Perhaps the most significant (and least visible) effect of wind farm expansion is the ‘unseen’ destruction of micro ecosystems.
In the Helmholtz report referred to earlier, which particularly focused on the North Sea, researchers found that wind farms offshore are affecting micro climates which in turn is having a major effect on plankton; “the climate just above the sea surface is also being permanently changed” the report said, adding that “these impacts also lead to an altered spatial distribution of marine ecosystem components”. They suggested that modification of the primary production of phytoplankton could be affected by up to +/- 10%. Their conclusion? “The small change in primary production would therefore have a lasting impact on the entire food web in the southern North Sea.”
Ecological disaster and money making schemes
It seems that nobody is listening to the warnings. Scientists, researchers and scholars have spoken. But governments and the wind industry are influenced by investment and financial gain.
Unless the public wake up and see that they are being hoodwinked, then I’m afraid we will continue to see massive environmental and ecological destruction in the quest for the holy grail of ‘cheap’ energy. Energy which, by the way, will never be cheap for the consumer, who will continue to pay ever higher prices for ‘green’ energy, while the perpetrators of ecological disaster line their pockets with their ill gotten gains.
5 thoughts on “Offshore Onslaught: Industrial Wind Turbines Are Destroying Our Precious Marine Environment”
I recently read that we are in the first phase of a Pilot in Virginia Beach where Dominion Energy is doing the following:
“When fully constructed in 2026, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project will deliver clean, renewable energy to the grid, avoid millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and help us achieve our goal of Net Zero carbon and methane emissions by 2050.
The two wind turbines currently in operation are the first installed in U.S. federal waters and are avoiding up to 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. CVOW will deliver what our customers want and what the planet needs: clean, reliable, affordable energy.”
My primary concerns are the fact that we have several bird sanctuaries here and without any studies on how bird migration is impacted by turbines, it could cause tremendous harm to our birds. My second concern is how this may impact our dolphin population. Overall, I don’t agree with the building of anything in the ocean that will disrupt the marine life of our region. How can I request that a study take place before they move forward with this? I have a really bad feeling that these turbines could destroy our entire city by 2050.
The first 2 paragraphs contain the usual wind industry lies, used in a cynical attempt to excuse the criminal conduct described in the balance of your comment. Don’t buy the lies. Fight them. That’s what this site is designed for.
Thank you sir for what you are doing. It will undoubtedly be made part of the historical record that I am sure is being written somewhere. The reason why I know this is because when I look anywhere else online for the TRUTH, I find nothing but disinformation. All over Google and GPT when I ask whether the ocean is responsible for the weather (i.e. the climate) or vice versa, I am sent to every website EXCEPT yours noting how the climate impacts the ocean. The truth as written by Rachel Carson decades ago is that it is very much the ocean, driven by its marine ecosystem that controls the climate and subsequently civilization’s fate. The manner in which the ocean; which btw makes up 71% of Earth’s surface is being destroyed will inevitably be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Greed is never the answer and as a middle-aged woman, I am saddened to see how little my generation learned in their life about nature and the need to preserve it. Please continue in your endeavors and I will contribute as I am able.
Here in SA we are currently looking at offshore turbines along the coast from Portland in Victoria to the Nene Valley, in SA. These are destined for Commonwealth waters (beyond State coastal waters). Yet there is NO research I have seen specific to this vast area. There is also a proposal in the ‘pipeline’ for off the coast of Kingston SE in SA which also is on the edge of the famous Coorong.
I have seen a map showing the full extent of the area to be infested with offshore turbines from Gippsland in Victoria to Kingston SE, in SA – look at a map of this coast line and you will see just how many turbines they could be prosing for the future.
Currently there appears to be NO scientific independent research or otherwise conducted into adverse environmental effects including those on the fishing industry -whether for the professional fisheries or that of the holiday maker.
While these turbines are destined for Commonwealth waters that is just between 8 and maybe 10-12km off shore.
Yet nothing in the way of research has been conducted, the current proponents are saying they will be conducting research – yet nothing has been undertaken (that we know off) even though they are preparing the people with a ‘drop in’ session where visitors can ask questions and get answers – ANWSERS ON WHAT? The number of turbines which will depend on the size which to date they are not sure off, do they have information on the damage to the ecosystem which over recent years the fisheries have been faced with having to reduce catch numbers etc to maintain the system. IF there is no independent scientific research or even research of their own what exactly are they going to provide information on at this ‘drop in’ session. If they have information relevant to the installation and operation then surely they should have both their own and independent scientific information about the possible advantages and disadvantages to the ecosystems.
There are a number of species that are fished for including Rock Lobster, Snapper and Abalone, what will happen to the environment of these?
What seems to be overlooked by those proposing and those supporting this and other such ventures is what happens in the Commonwealth Waters WILL have an affect on State waters – after all they are really the same waters all that has happened is there is an imaginary line drawn on a map that has NO relevance to the natural environment.
Independent research from overseas sparse as it may be and relevant to a different ocean environments is still indicating these offshore turbines are damaging/ altering the environment of the ocean beds. THAT IS SOMETHING WE NEED TO ENSURE DOES NOT HAPPEN HERE, this area is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the Great Barrier Reef as far as ecosystems go – they are just different.
The ‘drop in’ meeting is to be held on 13.2.2023 in Port MacDonnell and I would hope people from other areas will attend – if in or near the district, just to let them and the authorities know there are people concerned about this and other such proposals especially when there is NO research available which ensures no damage can be done to the Australian coastal ecosystems.
If you cannot make it try writing to your Federal and maybe State MP’s offering your concerns about this and other such offshore proposals – there are some in WA at the present time and no doubt others along our Nations coastline are being prepared.
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STATE/TERRITORY AND COMMONWEALTH WATERS – except for a line on a map.
Green energy’s best weapon over the last 38 years, has been the avoidance of real research. Also never forget green energy’s true motives and the reality of this madness…..the more they lie about wind energy, the more they’re rewarded.
Several years ago, I wrote this as part of a report about offshore turbines planned for Lake Erie.
OffShore wind’s expert opinions and fraudulent research:
If “green” wind energy is so good, why do so many people have to lie their asses off about it? Except for making a lot of money for a select group of people, I can see no good that has come from any of this industrial blight. As it is, this industry cannot cite one scientifically credible impact study from the last 30 years related to the species impacted by wind turbines.
The Icebreaker project is the first of what the wind industry hopes will be hundreds of turbines placed on Lake Erie. One or the primary obstacles to this plan is the impacts to birds and bats once wind turbines will have when placed Lake Erie. As an expert on wildlife and wind turbine mortality impacts, I can safely say that hundreds of massive wind turbines on Lake Erie will have a tremendous impact on these bird and bat species, easily killing tens of thousands of birds annually.
Rigging opinions and citing fraudulent research that says otherwise will not change this fact. In addition, rigged post construction mortality research with fraudulent research methodologies approved by the USFWS, is another wind energy pattern that will be repeated on Lake Erie if this project is approved.
A few weeks ago, I had a chance to look over their Final Environmental Assessment. This assessment needs to be amended because there is absolutely no possible way that this project can be approved unless the State of Ohio accepts this industry’s fraudulent research and opinions from their list of terrible experts.
One of the industry’s primary experts quoted for this project made the following statement: “Biologically significant impacts to any bird or bat species, including those that are endangered and threatened, are highly unlikely”. Industry expert Dr. Kerlinger went on to say that this opinion drew upon survey data collected at the project location and impacts were reviewed on birds and bats of offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the United States.
“The weight of evidence gathered from studies conducted over many years is quite conclusive,” said Dr. Kerlinger. “
For this false opinion Dr. Kerlinger drew upon the flawed survey data collected at the project location. He also reviewed the very limited information available pertaining to offshore wind farms. But most importantly, the mortality evidence from land based wind energy facilities looked at, was all produced from fatally flawed nonscientific research studies conducted over a period of many years.
The European Wind Energy Association in their recent report, “Birds and offshore wind farms” made this true statement: “For offshore wind, there is little knowledge regarding certain aspects, such as collision mortality”. Keep in mind that the first offshore wind farm was constructed 22 years ago in Denmark in 1991 and to this day little is still known about offshore wind turbine collision mortality.
While all this may seem amazing to some, it makes a little more sense when one realizes that offshore wind turbine impacts cannot be studied with conventional wind industry methodology. Those methods call for searching around turbines for carcasses and then making calculated estimates. This cannot be done with offshore turbines because bodies drift away and remains quickly become fish food.
The obvious thoughts to most reading this are that there are other ways to get this information: Cameras. It would be so easy and inexpensive to do so with 24-hour video surveillance on a few select turbines.
So why has this not been done? It never will be because this visual truth about the wind industry’s ongoing bird and bat genocide would be revealed. It has not been done for the same reasons that it has not happened on land based wind turbines. Camera surveillance would be this self-proclaimed green industry’s worst nightmare. The site of peregrine falcons, whooping cranes, bald eagles or any beloved species being cut in half would not sit well with the public. With cameras, the industry’s hidden mortality would be revealed and the numbers would be staggering. Slow agonizing deaths of sliced up victims along with bodies being removed by scavengers and wind personnel, would also be revealed.
I have also reviewed a number of Dr. Kerlinger’s wind industry related mortality studies. I have found all of them to be unscientific due to severely flawed research methodology. I found data his collection methods to be very biased and found his opinions and reports lacking and all without professional forthright information one would expect from a true expert.
My enclosed attachment of the article “Exposing the wind industry Genocide,” examines some of Dr. Kerlinger’s fatally flawed land based turbine research.
Another research group Tetra Tech conducted radar studies for this project. Like Dr. Kerlinger’s research, I am well aquatinted with their history of unscientific wind industry research. Besides reading over a severely flawed mortality study from the Hatchet Ridge wind turbines in Northern CA, I even had credible evidence given to me of mortality searches written up for these turbines, that never even took place.
As for Tetra Tech’s Lake Erie research, I found that the their Avian and Bat Studies were deliberately designed so important incidental data could be excluded, so their radar sampling would miss the highest concentrations of migrating species and very important data detailing lower altitude bird flight patterns during periods of low visibility were left out.
“Though incidental observations of birds in the vicinity of the Study Area were not included in the results of the standardized surveys, they provide insight on the avian community in the general area.”
“The MERLIN Avian Radar System operated offshore at the Crib (see Figure 1.1) during the 2010 sampling period, from May 1 to May 26, 2010, and again from August 16 to October 12, 2010.”
Tetra Tech has conducted research for this project that is not scientific or even close to accurately reporting real world conditions from the field. Look close at their filtered Radar data results. They dismissed 583 hours of radar data or 82%, of the total, using rain and wave clutter as an excuse. During this amount of time 10 million birds could have flown through this area. And even if they had, because this is a “Wind Energy” radar study, accurate direct observations would be classified as “incidental”. If Ohio wants the truth, new studies by credible researchers are desperately needed here.
“It is known that concentrations of most waterfowl species peak on Lake Erie during March to early April (Prince et al., 1992) with fall migration spanning a three to four month period where different species show peaks in abundance at different times late into the fall migration season (Ewert et al., 2006).”
“Data was not collected or analyzed due to weather (precipitation or fog) interference and/or radar mechanical downtime.”
When dealing with one of North America’s most important and highest concentrations of birds, one would think that credible scientific radar studies would have included year-round data and credible observations.
The Tetra Tech studies were supposed to provide baseline data for risk assessment. But this is not possible considering the limited unscientific data collected for this project. These studies also included no information or opinions about avian behavior responding to the absence of ice (open areas) expected around these offshore turbines during winter months, the risk created by increased year round perching availability attracting species, and the attraction of species due to the increased food available to raptors and fish eating species at turbine sites, that will accumulate because the cover provided by offshore turbines.
The amount of ice cover on Lake Erie varies with the shallow western region of Lake Erie icing up first. The open water created by these turbines during periods of ice-over, will attract great numbers of birds to these turbine installations, increasing the numbers that will be killed.